imagineNATIVE Film Announces Opening and Closing Night Films

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imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples in the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio and new media. Screenings, parties and panel discussions attract and connect filmmakers, media artists, programmers, buyers and industry professionals from around the world. The festival which runs in October has just announced their opening and closing films. See the press release below.

(Toronto – August 10, 2011) The 2011 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is proud to announce this year’s Opening and Closing Night Gala Presentations.

Opening on October 19, 2011 at 7PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (Reitman Square, 350 King St. W) is the Canadian Premiere of On The Ice, written and directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq), which arrives with acclaim from the Sundance Film Festival where it was an official selection, and the Berlin International Film Festival, where MacLean received the Best First Feature award. Closing this year’s imagineNATIVE on October 23, 2011 at 7PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the World Premiere of a stop motion Canadian masterpiece, Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes, a feature film based on the stunning multi Gemini Award winning animation series.

Engrossing and suspenseful, On The Ice is a dramatic feature based on MacLean’s own short film Sukimi, which screened at imagineNATIVE in 2008. Originally from Barrow, Alaska (where On The Ice was filmed) MacLean currently lives in New York City. On The Ice follows two teenagers who have grown up like brothers in the comfortable claustrophobia of an isolated Alaskan town. One morning, while on a seal hunt with another teen, an argument between the three escalates and leads to a tragic accident. Bonded by the dark secret, the two best friends create one fabrication after another in order to avoid dire consequences. Numbing, guilt‐fuelled days follow and the suspicions of their community grows despite their desperate denials. With their future in the balance, the two are forced to explore the demands of friendship and honour.  Featuring breakout performances by Josiah Patkotak and Frank Qutuq Irelan.

Alaska is one of the last mythic places in the world,” MacLean says. “The majority of the population are Iñupiat, as am I. Centuries old traditions are still a bedrock of life. The main characters in the film grew up in Barrow and their lives have been far from what is considered normal in other parts of the country. And yet they are also much like 17 year-olds anywhere in North America. On The Ice is a character-driven thriller about trying to get away with murder and a morality tale about the limits of friendship.”

imagineNATIVE will close out with the World Premiere of Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes, a fascinating and often humorous feature-length portrait of life on a northern Saskatchewan First Nation, based on the classic animated TV series. Created by Saskatoon-based husband and wife team Dennis & Melanie Jackson, the Wapos Bay TV series earned FOUR GEMINI AWARDS including Best Writing for a Children’s/Youth Program (2010), Best Individual or Ensemble Performance in an Animated Program or Series (2008), Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Series (2007), and the Canada Award (2006). Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes is directed, written and produced by Dennis Jackson (Cree) and produced and co-written by Melanie Jackson (Métis/Saulteaux). The filmmakers’ exquisite characters come alive – with an ingenious Indigenous twist on old-school stop-motion animation – in this moving story featuring the voice talents of Gordon Tootoosis (North of 60, Legends of the Fall), Andrea Menard (The Velvet Devil) and Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas). The Closing Night screening will be presented in memory of Gordon Tootoosis, a legendary Canadian Aboriginal actor and activist, who sadly passed away this July at age 69.

Early-Bird Festival Passes go on sale August 17.


IN-PERSON TIFF Box Office, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Sq., 350 King St. W


About imagineNATIVE

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is an international festival in Toronto that celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples at the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio, and new media. Each fall, the festival presents a selection of the most compelling and distinctive Indigenous works from around the globe. The festival’s programming, industry panel discussions, and social & cultural events attract and connect filmmakers, media artists, programmers, buyers, and industry professionals. The works accepted reflect the diversity of the world’s Indigenous nations and illustrate the vitality and excellence of our art and culture in contemporary media.




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